About Alpacas

Alpacas

Alpacas belong to the camelid family and are herbivores, which means they feed mainly on grass. To help digest their food, they have a stomach that is divided into three parts. Their jaws are very similar to the camel's jaws. Like all camelids, alpacas are social animals, which is why they move in herds.

Classification and characteristics

Like all camels, alpacas' bodies are characterised by a long, thin neck, elongated, slender legs and a small head. But the biggest difference is that they do not have a hump. There are two types of alpacas, distinguished by their fur. The Huacaya alpaca, the best known alpaca, has a wavy coat. The Suri alpaca, on the other hand, has smooth hair and therefore looks thinner.

To maintain the alpaca's mobility, the wool of the Huacaya alpaca is sheared once a year and that of the Suri alpaca every two years. Each alpaca produces between three and six kilograms of wool, but only about half is usable.

The mares are very light and weigh about 65 kg, whereas the stallions weigh on average 15 kg more and reach 80 kg. Both have a life expectancy of about 25 years. Alpacas have different coat colours, ranging from pure white to beige to shades of brown and reddish brown to shades of grey and jet black. Alpacas offer up to 23 natural shades of colour.

Alpaca wool properties

1.- Alpaca wool has a soft, silky, shiny natural fibre. Compared to sheep's wool, it is warmer and finer.

2.- Alpaca wool is thermoregulatory, which means it repels heat in summer and maintains your body heat in winter.

3.- Due to the hollow fibres, no bacteria or viruses can survive in alpaca wool, so it is antibacterial.

4.- The alpaca wool has a dirt-repellent fibre.

5.- Because of the moisture-repellent properties, the alpaca wool does not produce bacteria, so no odours can develop.

6.- In addition, the alpaca wool is hypoallergenic, which means that this wool does not cause allergies.

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Reproduction

Since female ovulation occurs during sexual intercourse, alpacas can reproduce almost all year round. The gestation period is about eleven months. Usually the female gives birth to a single foal, which she nurses for six to eight months. The complete development of the alpaca young ends between the first and second year of life.

History

Alpacas are animals deeply rooted in the human history of the South American continent, because without them human development would not have been possible or would have been much more difficult. This is because there were no domesticated animals like cows, horses, pigs or others in South America. Therefore, alpacas were considered the best friends of humans in South America. The domestication of alpacas began as early as 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. They served as beasts of burden and warmed the natives with their wool. The various indigenous peoples raised large herds of alpacas. This changed with the conquest by the Spanish Empire, as they brought sheep and showed no interest in the native alpaca animals. The alpaca became the farm animal of the poor indigenous population and was almost extinct. This situation continued until the independence of the South American states, when the value of the alpaca was recognised again. Today, the vast majority of alpacas are found in Chile, southern Peru and western Bolivia, as well as some specimens in northern Argentina.

Alpacas are also kept in Europe. Despite efforts to improve their quality of life on this continent, alpacas have adapted to the South American highlands for thousands of years. For this reason, we work exclusively with alpacas from South America.